The immersive Cordillera Huayhuash mountain range boasts several scores of monumental peaks, complimented with crystal-blue river-valleys. Situated within the Andes in Peru, Huayhuash gifts its residents with vista-like views that one never forgets. Home to several unique species of wildlife, the mountain range is a must see for experienced hikers, backpackers, and tourists alike. Small hamlets sprinkle the landscape up to heights of 4000 metres above sea level with a rugged landscape that boasts a demanding circuit, a well-trodden trail, begging to be explored.
The route lies across 130km of trail, reaching heights 5,000m, and taking approximately 12-days to complete. The trek accommodates the experienced hiker, but also caters for those who prefer shorter routes if the full trail appears daunting. Visitors brave enough to traverse the full distance are welcomed with panoramic views above the treeline. Hot springs invite visitors to fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area, with chance sightings of over sixty different species of birds, along with regional mammals such as the local vicuña and vizcacha.
Going Solo or Touring
While it is possible to scale the mountain range on your own, it is not always recommended. If visitors choose this route, they will need to bring with them adequate equipment, have a strong command of Quechua or Spanish, and bring enough food and water with to last the entire trip. In this case, visitors often make use of pack animals to lighten the load and better enjoy the vast scenery. Alternatively, guided tours are available from many local tourism providers in the region which can ease the way for visitors wanting to attempt the trail.
When to go
The dry season has shown to accommodate hikers as bad weather is unlikely to last longer than two days at a time. A 12-day trek in the months from May to September are ideal as there is less rainfall and snow that could lead to dangerous hiking conditions. During this season the days are generally clear, and visitors can take in all of the sights that the trek has to offer. It is important to keep track of any weather forecast and updates that might prevail while on the trail.1, 2 Due to the time of year and altitude, night-time temperatures can reach a chilly -10°C.
Example Day-to-day route
Day 1: Visitors are picked and transferred to the first camp, Cuartelwain, and arrive after 5 hours. This will be our first camp.
Day 2: Visitors walk up to Qaqanan go down to the east side of Cordillera Huayhuash, thereafter visitors reach the second campsite on the shores of Mitucocha lake.
Day 3: Visitors take the trail to Carhuac pass and have a nice view of Yerupaja chico, Yerupaja and Siula mounts. Visitors then we walk down to get to Carhuacocha lake where where tents are set up on its shores.
Day 4: Visitors depart for Siula pass, and walk along the shores of Carhuacocha lake, visiting Qanrajancacocha lake, Siulacocha lake and Quesillococha lake on the way, with constant view of the Hirishanca chico, Yerupaja and Siula mounts. Thereafter visitors walk down to the Huayhuash campsite.
Day 5: Visitors depart for Portachuelo pass and then walk down among local Ichus. Visitors pass near to Viconga lake and get to the campsite, near hot springs.
Day 6: Visitors head to the highest pass, Cuyoc, which is located between the Cuyoc and Pumarinri mounts. From the pass, visitors descend to Guanacpatay valley and set up camp.
Day 7: Visitors depart for San Antonio, which provides views of the Carnicero, Jurao, Siula Grande and Yerupaja mounts, and the Jurao and Siulacocha lakes. Thereafter visitors go down the Cutatambo valley to set up camp.
Day 8: Visitors depart for the Gran Vista viewpoint and visit the base camp and glacier of Siula Grande mount, thereafter, returning to the path to the campsite.
Day 9: Visitors depart for Huayllapa village and walk down through the valley.
Day 10: Visitors depart for the Tapush and can see a part of Cordillera Blanca (Tuco mountain). Thereafter visitors go down to Qashpapampa which is located below Diablo Mudo mount and set up camp for the day.
Day 11: Visitors depart for the Yahucha pass, and then down Huacrish valley to Jahuacocha lake.where camp is set up near its shores.
Day 12: Visitors depart for the Pampa Llamac pass and then descend to Llamac village and will then be picked up and taken back toHuaraz city.
Equipment and Accessories
To successfully finish the Cordillera Huayhuash trek hikers will often bring along a large backpack (60-70 litres), a smaller day pack, lightweight sleeping bag, a warm and waterproof jacket, three sets of durable outdoor pants, up to four pairs of woollen socks, shirts and caps, a pair of good hiking boots, an additional pair of sneakers, a water bottle, a pocket knife, a pair of sunglasses and sunscreen, a headlamp and batteries, and a warm pair of gloves. Visitors that are doing a solo trek will also need to consider bringing with them a tent, small stove, kitchen utensils, and enough food to last the duration of the trail.
Experience the Best
The Cordillera Huayhuash trek will push visitors to reach new heights and expose them to breath-taking sights that only a select number of people will ever experience. The scenery and local culture are sure to inspire both the expert hiker and novice adventurer.
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